John Appleby had written a post reviewing the developer experience for SAP HANA and comparing it with other database vendors. Read John’s blog here.
As a developer and HANA Startup Advocate who supported several startups in building proof of concepts and solutions on SAP HANA, here is my perspective on the developer experience for SAP HANA.
If you search for HANA Developer on Google, this is the first link in the search results:
You have the option of a 30-day trial of a sandbox or the Developer edition on AWS. Simple and clear.
As a developer, when I evaluate software, I follow a 3 step process:
1. How easy is it to set up the software in my local environment?
With SAP HANA developer edition, it is easy.
Empirical evidence: In 2012, following every startup forum, we conducted an in-person 2 day boot camp on Sap HANA, free for startup developers. The one in Palo Alto was the first one I facilitated. We had 20 people in the room. Every single person had the HANA developer instance up and running on AWS and studio installed in less than 15 min. And my guess is that 5 mins of that time was spent in balking at the fact that they had to pull out their Credit cards J
The only material we provided them was a link to this post: http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-28294
Personally, I like the fact that I do not have to set up a DB on my laptop and slow down my machine. And I believe this is the future of software development.
2. How easy can I get a ‘Hello World’ program up and running?
With a database, it is probably, how can I create a sample schema and write a small test program.
Creating a sample schema probably takes the same effort in all DBs that John reviewed. Probably it is a bit more involved for columnar databases because you have to re-think the way you think about your schema.
While writing a sample application that connects to a traditional RDMBS, you would have to write a client app or a web app.
3. How easy is it for me to load my data onto and re-write one of my use cases?
More often than not, this means I run into error messages that I have to sort out or I need to look up documentation.
With HANA, I found the experience similar to when I wrote my first Android application.
When I encountered an error message, I Googled it
For Android, I found support in the Android community forums.
With HANA, I found support in the SCN community.
Empirical evidence: I work with startups in helping them build their POC on HANA as part of the Startup Focus program. More often than not, they will email me an error message and ask me how to resolve it.
Sometimes it is hard to figure out the issue because I don’t have access to the system. So, I google the error message as a fast way of searching on SCN. 95% of the time, I have found a solution posted in SCN – step by step instruction on how to fix the issue or troubleshoot further.
For example, when you encounter an error related to user privileges in SAP HANA, a simple google search will lead you to this post on SCN: http://scn.sap.com/thread/3166966
When developers reach out asking for access to materials to learn HANA, I direct them to HANA Academy and SCN.
One area to improve on HANA academy is to keep adding new content on a regular basis and on topics that dive deeper into the technology. But it is a good resource to start when you are evaluating the technology and writing your ‘Hello World’ on HANA.
Evaluating software for most developers does not stop at downloading and installing software. It is a 3 step process I outlined above.
My prediction: with the increasing move to cloud based solutions and the proliferation of cloud infrastructure providers developers will look to the cloud for setting up development environments rather than rely on local instances.
I believe SAP is breaking the mold of traditional software delivery model for developers by providing cloud access to SAP HANA. Of course, truly free cloud access (read no infrastructure costs) would be the icing on the cake.